Author: Zeng, Weixin
Title: Reconstructing news values of the frenemy through journalistic translation on WeChat
Advisors: Li, Dechao (CBS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2024
Subject: Journalism -- Translating
Translating and interpreting
Online social networks -- China
Mass media and language
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xvii, 205 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This research began with a general interest in exploring the complex relationship between journalistic translation and journalism, as well as the impact of social media on journalistic translation practices. Translation scholars have unanimously recognized the interdisciplinary nature of journalistic translation research (JTR), situated at the intersection of journalism and translation studies. However, interdisciplinary dialogues between news translation and journalism studies remain relatively limited in scale. This thesis aims to expand the research scope of JTR and identify potential new research agendas shared by journalism and translation studies. Furthermore, this research seeks to address the gap in the investigation of translated news on social media. While JTR has become a well-established subdiscipline in translation studies, there is relatively little literature dedicated to translated news on emerging new media platforms like WeChat and TikTok.
To this end, the current project examines translated news articles published by Reference News (RN), a prestigious and popular Chinese newspaper, on the WeChat public account platform. Specifically, the study analyzes the most read translated news reports (those with 100,000-plus clicks) covering the United States that were published on RN’s WeChat account between January 1st, 2020, and December 31st, 2020. The analytical framework adopted in this project is built upon the conceptualization of news translation as a two-level gatekeeping practice proposed by Valdeón (2021). The macro-level gatekeeping analysis takes the form of content analysis, seeking to investigate the sources selected, topics covered, and tones conveyed by the collected translated news stories concerning the United States. The micro-level gatekeeping analysis then draws on the discursive news value analysis (DNVA) framework developed by Bednarek and Caple (2017) to provide an account of news values foregrounded in the source and target texts, and, more importantly, reveals how news values embedded in both verbal and non-verbal resources were (re)constructed through translation. Possible factors that may have prompted RN’s journalistic translation practice on the WeChat public account platform are also discussed using the gatekeeping theory proposed by Shoemaker and Vos (2009).
The macro-level analysis revealed that RN tends to translate news stories originally produced by leading news agencies, well-established and mainstream news organizations, and media outlets with pro-China stances. In addition to regularly translating popular and elite media sources, RN occasionally selected tabloid, extreme right-wing, and anti-China media to cover news about the United States. Further investigation into the topics and stances presented in the collected news indicated that the majority of popular translated news stories related to America could be categorized as hard news. Furthermore, news stories emphasizing the negative aspects of the US predominated in the data.
The micro-level analysis revealed several prominent patterns in RN’s Chinese renditions and their corresponding English counterparts regarding the construal of news values. Unlike the English headlines, RN’s renditions of the collected headlines displayed a lesser emphasis on the news value of Proximity, as all the covered stories centered around the United States. The lower frequency of Timeliness in TTHC can be attributed to the lack of grammatical tense in Chinese and RN’s deliberate use of sensational headlines to capture readers’ attention. Negativity and Superlativeness were enhanced in TTHC to portray the United States in a more negative light. The analysis of the images collected also showed similar patterns of Proximity and Negativity, which exhibited statistical significance between STIC and TTIC. The examination of the verbal-visual relationship between headlines and accompanying images emphasized the importance of verbal and non-verbal resources in establishing news values, as they often reinforced or complemented each other. STFTC mainly exhibited the news values of Eliteness, Proximity, and Timeliness, while TTFTC emphasized Eliteness, Timeliness, and Negativity, aligning with the results from the headline analysis. The case study on concordances pertaining to the Trump administration revealed that RN’s renditions tended to omit any China-related elements that might depict the country in a negative manner.
The gatekeeping theory proposed by Shoemaker and Vos (2009) was utilized to analyze the patterns of RN’s newsworthiness construction practices in reporting the United States via translation. It is argued that the gatekeepers at RN, as individuals, have limited influence on the decision-making process of producing translated news, as they are part of a collective undergoing a similar socialization process and therefore sharing similar perspectives. Factors such as the journalistic principles emphasized in China, RN’s distinctive position as an official news organization providing translated news, the target audience on WeChat, and the broader journalistic landscape in China have all played a role in shaping RN’s gatekeeping practices of (re)constructing the news values related to the United States.
This research provides a specific case study of translated news on Chinese social media from an interdisciplinary perspective. On the one hand, it examines the news translation practices of a representative Chinese media outlet on WeChat. Despite the development of JTR in the past two decades, translated news published on social media has rarely been researched in the existing literature (Zeng & Li, 2023). On the other hand, this research contributes to the field of digital journalism studies by offering a non-Western and translation-oriented perspective. In journalism studies, specifically in digital journalism studies, aspects such as language, discourse, and other humanities-centered perspectives are seldom explored (Steensen & Westlund, 2020). Furthermore, this study proposes an interdisciplinary framework built upon a broadened conceptualization of translation, the DNVA approach, and the gatekeeping theory. While translation scholars have introduced notions such as framing, gatekeeping, agenda-setting, and tabloidization into JTR, the overlap between JTR and journalism studies deserves further exploration. Moreover, this study is expected to serve as a reference material for journalism students and journalists in terms of enhancing audience engagement.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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